Lael Summer is talented.
She can sing, and with the band behind her, her music becomes listenable. Her latest EP, “Burden to Bear,” is almost that. The six tracks would have dominated the early 2000’s pop scene; jazzy guitar and poppin‘ Target brand horns included. But at the end of it all, Lael Summer showcases more of her vocal talent than her singer-songwriter prowess.
Her lyrics are hit-or-miss to me. Songs like “Nothing Better” discuss the better and best situations in life, whether it’s drinking lattes or schmoozing with your best friends over a glass of white wine. There is a lot of personality in the track, but Summer slacks in letting that inner flow go and grow with the music behind her. Her single “I Need a Man” succeeds where “Nothing Better” slobbers, running around with multiple ideas instead of sticking to one main concept and stemming from it.
My favorite song on the album is “Count My Blessings,” a slinky acoustic number that blossoms with flavors of Joplin crunch. I like it so much because the song doesn’t sound like the rest of the album, struggling to find one bankable sound instead of exploring the capabilities Lael’s voice offers. She’s an established name and has done so while going to school at the University of Southern California. I think that once she leaves college, her next EP will deliver a stronger lyrical voice. You can almost taste the amount of influence she has in her work – from Christina and Joplin – but early influence shouldn’t dictate the overall direction of an artist’s one true voice.
Originality is key in every musical age, but in a time where experimenting is getting favored along with free music and streaming services, there should be more than just milk chocolate for fans to munch on.